Three new marine reserves around New Zealand's sub-Antarctic islands will be created under the Subantarctic Islands Marine Reserves Bill, Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson announced earlier this month.
The Bill has had its first reading in Parliament and will establish a marine reserve covering the entire 12 nautical miles of territorial sea around Antipodes Island. In addition two more marine reserves around the Bounty Islands and Campbell Island, covering 58% and 39% of those islands' territorial seas will be proclaimed, making a total of 435 163 ha of sea to be newly protected.
The new reserves are to be known as the Moutere Mahue / Antipodes Island Marine Reserve, the Moutere Hauriri / Bounty Islands Marine Reserve and the Moutere Ihupuku / Campbell Island Marine Reserve.
Combined with the existing marine reserve and marine mammal sanctuary around the Auckland Islands nearly a million hectares of New Zealand's sub-Antarctic territorial seas will be fully protected in no-take marine reserves. The Auckland Islands / Motu Maha Marine Reserve covers c. 484 000 ha of its territorial waters.
The Bill also provides for a review of the Moutere Ihupuku / Campbell Island Marine Reserve after five years to consider protecting the remaining 61% of Campbell's territorial sea by including it in the marine reserve.
"These islands boast World Heritage status in recognition of their international conservation importance and amazing wildlife. This Bill will ensure that the protection these islands enjoy is extended out to the sea," Ms Wilkinson said. "The subantarctic islands are renowned globally and are a huge attraction for the burgeoning eco-tourism industry. Protecting the surrounding waters is sure to add to the prestige of this remote area." (click here).
Improved protection: Campbell Albatrosses are endemic to Campbell Island
Photograph by David Evans
Antipodes Island has been in the news this year with funds being raised by the Million Dollar Mouse campaign to rid it of introduced House Mice Mus musculus in 2014, with NZ$ 684 490 (over two-thirds) raised to date.
All five* New Zealand's sub-Antarctic island groups are National Nature Reserves and together form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All the island groups south of New Zealand support significant populations of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels, several of them endemic to the region.
*The four listed here plus The Snares.
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 December 2012